By Jess

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab; you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry!”

These are the words of Nobel Prize winner and Royal Society member Sir Tim Hunt at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea earlier this week; at a lunch hosted by women scientists, no less.

Of course, being in a room full of journalists, just because his speech was unrecorded did not mean it went unreported…
Journalist Connie St Louis’ Tweet (

He must have just been joking… Well apparently not

As a female who spends a fair amount of time in a lab I feel a bit insulted. And I feel insulted on behalf of all women scientists, who I know to be a lot more capable than fulfilling Tim Hunt’s three expectations of what ‘girls’ do. Who knows, maybe on top of those things women could also do some science?

Although let’s not forget Hunt did also admit to his own faults, apparently he too is incapable of being in a lab with someone of the opposite sex without falling in love.

Which I guess is why he’s “in favour of single-sex labs”.

Wow. Just how are we getting anything done at RSES with all the falling in love and crying that must be going on in our labs where men and women are allowed to work side by side?

It’s disappointing to hear these words coming from the mouth of a prominent and respected scientist, especially when they are voiced so publicly. And it’s a sad reminder that though things have clearly come a long way, gender inequality still continues to exist in academia.

But finally, more than anything I can’t help but wonder what the reaction of his wife was, herself a successful scientist and professor…